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Danni Pomplun on building a queer yoga studio, advice for beginners and the joy of practicing naked

When Danni Pomplun set out to open HAUM, the queer owned and operated yoga studio in San Francisco, his community was quite literally in search of a new one. The pandemic had led to the permanent closing of beloved studios across the city, leaving many teachers unsure of their futures, and students without a place to practice. It was also an opportunity for rebirth.

Pomplun had a vision to do things differently as he rallied support to build the new studio. “I worked in the yoga industry for the past 10 years and was really frustrated by how they treated teachers,” he tells Queerty.

“Building HAUM I didn’t think about it as a big business model, but more so how can I create a space for people to be people, and how can I step into leadership where we put people first,” he adds. “It’s tough work, your resources go to the people versus your pockets, but I’m okay with that. Operating everything in transparency has been such a gift, and it reminds everybody that we’re working together.”

Now with two thriving studios in the city and potentially more on the horizon, it’s clearly a formula that’s resonated. We asked Danni about yoga advice for beginners, running a queer business, practicing naked and more as part of our new Time Out interview series, catching up with the ever-expanding roster of LGBTQ athletes and fitness professionals.

Yoga teaches, among other things, balance and discipline, but what’s one thing in life you have no qualms about overindulging in? 

The word balance is pretty funny to me. It makes me think that I have to give up one thing for another to try to get something in order. So I like to think more in terms of harmony. Like the yin and the yang, they work together because they each have each other. Something I don’t mind overindulging in is relentlessly being me. That to me means staying open to all of the experiences in life. It means embracing my spirituality, yoga life, queer life, business life. and creating a space within myself where they all live together, not segregated. It’s what I like to think the definition of authenticity is, and I’m a big proponent of living my life that way.

What’s the number one song on your yoga playlist?

“Explorers of Infinity” by Marti Nikko and DJ drez. I could listen to this song all day long.

I love that yoga meets people where you are while still giving them the tools to grow. What do you say to people who think they “can’t do yoga”?

Oh this is my favorite. My first response is, “Do you not eat because you’re hungry?” It’s the same thing. I think what gets scary is going to a yoga class, but you’ll get so much more than moving your body in shapes. It’s the tools to give you freedom and to step into your greatest self.

OK now let’s play a little game of ‘this’ or ‘that’…

House or disco?

Discohouse, obviously! If you’ve ever seen me out and about in the queer scene, I am a sucker for discohouse. Have fun getting off the dance floor though, you need to pull the cord or kick me out.

Morning yoga practice or evening?

Morning practice for sure. There’s something about the stillness and the quietness of the morning that I love. I used to not be a morning person, given that I worked a nightlife before yoga. But now I love it. I get to see the city wake up, I get to wake up with the Earth.

Tattoos or piercings?

Really? You’re going to do this to me? This is how we go down in this interview?! I feel like this is a personal attack. All jokes aside, I’m pretty heavily tattooed. But I’ve also got a good amount of piercings… I’ll have to go with tattoos because I have more of them.

Relaxing game night or sweaty night out dancing?

I LOVE dancing. I dance every day in my house. My friends and I have a group thread called the “dancing queens.” And if you ever see us out you’ll know why.

Guided meditation or sit with the silence?

For me being a space holder requires a lot of deep listening and because of that I really enjoy silence. It gives me the space to listen to my own heart so that I can support others.

Beach or desert yoga retreat?

I’m a beach baby all the way. I’m born and bred in California so beaches are my second nature.

What’s something you’ve learned in your own practice that’s aided you in business?

Learning to slow down and listen to my body. The body never lies. As much as I want to say I can do the big poses my body will tell me when I can’t. It’s awakening my intuition. It’s listening to my guts. It’s knowing that all the wisdom and all the knowledge I need is within. And it starts with listening. I do the same in my business, I listen to my intuition, I listen to my body. When I make a choice I put myself in that future choice and feel my body in its current state. And I trust in that.

It seems like your community really has your back. How do you try to give back in return?

I’m pretty lucky and I feel incredibly grateful for the community I get to participate in. The best thing I do to give back his show up and be authentically me. Because that gives people permission to show up for themselves and to be authentic to themselves, to break out the constructs that other people put on us, other people’s expectations, and listen to our own intuition. Someone taught me that, and it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

Have you ever tried or taught a naked yoga class?

Sure have! A lot of fun. Being comfortable in your body and helping other people be comfortable in their bodies is a gift.